Today is the 65th birthday of Carl Kins, who lives in Belgium, but judges all over the world. I’ve judged beer competitions with Carl in Japan, Australia, his native Belgium and the United States, too. Carl’s an active member of the ECBU, the European Consumers Beer Union, and Zythos. And most importantly, he has a great palate, and is a terrific person to spend time with talking about beer, or anything else. Join me in wishing Carl a very happy birthday.
Today is the traditional birthday of Gambrinus, sometimes called King Gambrinus, considered to be a patron saint of beer, brewing and/or Belgian beer. Not an “official” saint, at least not in the catholic church, but a legendary figure. Regardless, join me in drinking a toast to King Gambrinus today.
Here’s the overview at Wikipedia:
Gambrinus is a legendary king of Flanders, and an unofficial patron saint of beer or beer brewing. Gambrinus is variously depicted as a European king, as an English knight of the Middle Ages, or (less commonly) as a plump old man. Gambrinus’ birthday is purported to be April 11.
The origin of the character is most widely believed to be John the Fearless (1371–1419), who some also believe to be the inventor of hopped malt beer. However, other sources report that one of the cup-bearers in the court of Charlemagne (742–814) was also called Gambrinus. In 1543, the German poet Burkart Waldis wrote of Gambrinus, explaining that Gambrinus learned the art of brewing from Isis, the ancient Egyptian goddess of motherhood and fertility.
It is also possible that the original Gambrinus was Duke John I of Brabant (1254-1298), who was called Jan Primus.
Other possible Latin etymologies of the name include cambarus (cellarer) and ganeae birrinus (one who drinks in a tavern). Plzeňský Prazdroj, brewer of the Gambrinus lager, endorses the explanation that the name is a corruption of Jan Primus (John the First), referring to John I, Duke of Brabant. Alternatively, Gambrinus may be a corruption of the name Gambrivius. Although less likely, Gambrinus might also derive from camba, a word from the Celtic language family that refers to a brewer’s pan.
King Gambrinus, known as “the patron saint of beer,” has long been a universal symbol of beer and brewing. Particularly during the late nineteenth century, the image of Gambrinus was used by countless brewers to promote their products and remind consumers of the rich heritage of beer-making. Many breweries were even adorned with life-size statues of the King.
But who was Gambrinus? It is Gambrinus who brought beer to earth, and here is the legend of how this came to pass, and how he came to be King: Gambrinus was a poor apprentice in glass-making, hailing from a little town in the Flandres called Fresne sur l’Escaut. With his wonderful pink cheeks, blonde hair and blonde beard, he was the most beautiful boy in the town and had great romantic success with the town girls.
But Gambrinus had secretly fallen in love with the beautiful daughter of his master, Flandrine. In those times, glass makers were noble from birth, and taught their art only to their sons. Flandrine, as proud as she was pretty, wanted to marry a master glass maker like her father, grandfather, and great grandfather. Gambrinus, as an apprentice, would only prepare the glass for his master, who then skillfully puffed it into decorative sheets.
At last, Gambrinus gathered the courage to reveal his feelings to Flandrine. But Flandrine, offended that such a lowly apprentice sought her affection, refused so strongly that Gambrinus left Fresne, and vowed never to return to glass-working again so that he might forget about Flandrine forever.
So Gambrinus wandered from town to town playing his violin and writing poetry to sing along while he played. Gambrinus, who was very clever and a quick-learner, soon gained a reputation as one of the best violinists in the region. He was constantly called on in towns far and wide to liven up weddings, birthdays, and other parties.
When the people of Fresne heard of the fame Gambrinus had achieved, they could barely believe it. They were so proud of their Gambrinus that they invited him back to Fresne and threw a town-wide celebration in his honor. Gambrinus, flattered by the thought of a celebration in his honor, accepted the towns invitation and returned to Fresne. When he arrived in Fresne and began playing his violin, the delighted townspeople began to sing and dance and cheer.
But soon after Gambrinus had started playing, he noticed Flandrine in the crowd. Overcome by nervousness, Gambrinus began to tremble. He trembled so much and played his violin so horribly that the townspeople began to kick him and shout at him.
The townspeople all blamed Gambrinus for the commotion, since it was his poor playing that upset everyone. Gambrinus soon found himself arrested by the town officials and spent a full month in jail for the trouble he caused in the street and the noisy disturbance he had caused in the night. When Gambrinus was released from jail, he decided the only way he could ever make himself forget about Flandrine was to kill himself. He decided to hang himself, and headed out into the forest to set up a noose and platform. Gambrinus slid the noose over his neck, but just when he was about to step off the platform, he saw before him the devil himself. As is his custom, the devil proposed a deal to Gambrinus: if his power was not strong enough to make Flandrine love Gambrinus, the devil would oblige Gambrinus to forget Flandrine forever. This in exchange for Gambrinus’ soul in 30 years time. Gambrinus accepted the deal, and agreed to the devil’s terms.
As soon as Gambrinus returned to town, he noticed an intense desire to gamble on games. Indeed, the devil meant to turn Gambrinus’ love for Flandrine into a passion for betting. Gambrinus bet on everything he could, not caring whether he won or not. But win he did, and soon Gambrinus found himself the owner of a small fortune. Although gambling had nearly eclipsed any thought of Flandrine, Gambrinus suddenly had an idea. Because he was as rich as a prince, perhaps Flandrine would agree to marry him as a noble. Gambrinus approached Flandrine for the second time and expressed his feelings to her. But Flandrine’s rejection was as swift and as ruthless as the first time: Gambrinus wasn’t a noble; he was born a boy, and would remain a boy for life.
King on a Barrel Gambrinus, returned to the forest to see the devil and ask him what went wrong; after all, Gambrinus still had not forgotten Flandrine, nor had Flandrine been made to fall in love with Gambrinus. Suddenly, before Gambrinus’ eyes appeared a large field with long lines of poles on which green plants began to grow. Soon the poles were covered by these green, perfumed plants. “These,” explained the devil, “are hops.” Just as quickly, two buildings burst forth from the ground. “The first building is a hophouse,” said the devil, “and the second one is a brewery. Come, and I will teach you how to make beer, Flandres’ wine. Beer will help you to forget Flandrine.”
Gambrinus learned how to make beer (not without tasting it every now and again) and found it delicious. Gambrinus soon felt like singing and dancing and playing his violin. But he remembered that the last time he had played violin he had been arrested, and his violin destroyed. Gambrinus asked the devil how he might seek revenge against the townspeople of Fresne who kicked him, sent him to jail, and broke his violin. The devil gave Gambrinus a new instrument that no one could resist, and taught Gambrinus how to play it. The devil explained that this instrument was called the chimes. The devil gave Gambrinus some seeds and the chimes and sent Gambrinus back to Fresne.
Once he arrived home, Gambrinus planted the precious seeds given to him by Belzebuth, and practiced making beer and playing chimes. One morning, Gambrinus set up tables, chairs, barrels, and chimes on the main town square and invited all the townspeople to join him to sample his new drink called beer. The townspeople tasted the beer, which was a brown lager. At first the people complained: “It is too bitter,” “It is too strong.” The people soon began laughing at Gambrinus and his stupid drink. Then Gambrinus began to play the irresistible chimes. The people all began dancing and could not stop. All the dancing made the people thirsty, which encouraged them to drink more beer. After an hour or so, the tired and woozy townspeople pleaded with Gambrinus to stop playing chimes. But Gambrinus kept playing for hours and hours. Gambrinus was satisfied that he had gotten his revenge on those who had wronged him.
But after time the townspeople began to appreciate the beer. They begged Gambrinus to make more and called beer the best drink they ever had. Word of Gambrinus’ drink spread far and wide and crossed over all frontiers. People from other towns soon begged Gambrinus to bring beer to their towns. Everywhere Gambrinus went, he brewed beer and played the chimes. So impressed were the nobles of the region that the Dukes, Counts, and Lords offered Gambrinus the title “King of Flandres.” Gambrinus accepted the position of king, but said he preferred the title “King of the Beer.” From thence on, Gambrinus was known as “The Brewer King.”
When Flandrine realized that Gambrinus would never come to her again, she came to talk to him. Gambrinus, however, more than a little inebriated, couldn’t recognize Flandrine, and just offered her something to drink; indeed, Gambrinus had forgotten about Flandrine.
Gambrinus lived happily with his subjects for many years, until finally the devil returned. “Thirty years have passed since we made our deal,” said the devil. “Now you must follow me.” But when the devil turned around, Gambrinus began playing the chimes, and the devil began to dance. The devil begged Gambrinus to stop playing, but Gambrinus continued, and the devil could not stop dancing. Finally, the devil agreed to break his deal with Gambrinus, releasing Gambrinus from his end of the deal.
King Gambrinus lived happily for another half century playing chimes and making beer. When Gambrinus finally died, his body disappeared, and in its place appeared a barrel of beer. This is why Gambrinus has no tombstone, and why no one knows of the resting place of The Brewer King.
Another website lists some tall tales that have made Gambrinus famous:
- He received the gift of beer directly from the Egyptian fertility goddess Isis
- In medieval times he loaned his soul to the devil for 30 years to learn the art and process of brewing
- He outwitted his opponent in a challenge to lift an impossibly heavy beer cask by first drinking the beer then triumphantly lifted the empty cask
- During a three-day banquet he drank mug after mug of foamy beer and he was known forever after as the King of Beer
Below is a Symphonion No. 25 GS: “Gambrinus,” a “spectacular original coin-operated disc musical box by ‘Symphonion Musikwerke, Leipzig,’ for 11 3/4 in. discs, 84 teeth in duplex comb (complete), with a wonderful wood-carved figure of the mythical Flemish King “Gambrinus”. 43 1/2 in. high. With 10 discs.”
The German Beer Brewers Museum in Munich owns a portrait from 1526 of King Gambrinus, and it includes the following verse:
Im Leben ward ich Gambrinus gennant,
König zu Flandern und Brabant,
Ich hab aus Gersten Malz gemacht
Und Bierbrauen zuerst erdacht.
Drum können die Brauer mit Wahrheit sagen,
Daß sie einen König zum Meister haben.
Which translates roughly to:
In life I was known as Gambrinus,
King of Flanders and Brabant,
From barley I made malt
And was first at brewing beer.
Thus the brewers can truthfully say,
They have a king as master brewer.
Today is the 62nd birthday of Rudi Ghequire. Rudi’s been the general manager and brewmaster of Belgium’s Brouwerij Rodenbach, in Roeselare, West-Vlaanderen, since 1982. He’s been the face of Rodenbach as long as I can remember, even since Palm bought the brewery in 1998, Rudi’s been the face of the company. I’ve run into him at a few events over the year, and he gave us a tour during the Brussels Beer Challenge a couple of years ago. Join me in wishing Rudi a very happy birthday.
Giving a tour.
A true brewing legend, who was treated like a rock star in Belgium where they care about their national beers, Pierre Celis would have been 96 today. Celis single-handedly revived the style witbier in the 1960s when he was a brewer at Hoegaarden. He later moved to Texas to start a microbrewery with his daughter Christine, which was sold to Miller in 1995. He later made three cave-aged beers under the label Grottenbier at St. Bernardus in Belgium. Unfortunately, Pierre passed away almost eight years ago in April. Pierre was a terrific person and his absence is still deeply felt. The last I heard, his daughter Christine was working on a great-sounding project that will honor her father’s memory and also produce some terrific beers, too. That project, originally was going to be called Flemish Fox Brewery, and was announced as being open, but it appears Christine instead opened a new Celis Brewery. Join me in drinking a toast to the memory of Pierre Celis.
Today is the birthday of Regina Wauters (March 1, 1795-January 24, 1874). She was married to Pedro Rodenbach and the two of them bought out other family members to become sole owners of what would become known as Brouwerij Rodenbach in Rosalre, Belgium.
Here’s her Wikipedia entry:
Born in Mechelen, Regina Wauters was the daughter of a rich local brewer. She married Pedro Rodenbach in 1818 and moved to Roeselare in West Flanders, Belgium, where his family had a distillery.
In 1821 Pedro took along with his brothers and sister a brewery. The brothers agreed to a partnership for fifteen years. At the end of this period, Pedro and Regina bought the brewery from the others and Regina ran the business while Pedro served in the military during the Belgian revolution.
Rodenbach bought the distillery from his family in 1835. He died in Brussels in 1848. His family sold the distillery to Regina Wauters, Her distillery remained for a long time the only significant distillery in Roeselare. Regina extended it immediately after she bought it. Later she asked her eldest son, Raymond, to work in the distillery. Raymond Rodenbach would continue to run the distillery until c.1895. The distillery was later sold to Honoré Talpe who transformed it into a chicory factory.
Regina invested her money not only in the distillery of the Rodenbachs but also in their brewery. In 1836 the family Rodenbach sold the brewery in Roeselare with numerous other properties. Pedro Rodenbach would buy most of it with the money of Regina. Pedro had to sign legal documents to recognize her as sole proprietor of the brewery and any other property that he had bought from his family.
Regina immediately began to expand the brewery. Although she succeeded in building one of the largest distilleries in the region, she would fail to create the largest brewery in the city. She suffered from the fierce competition with Anna Gesquiere, who also ran a brewery in Roeselare.
In 1860 her son Edward Rodenbach came to work in the brewery and it was during his directorship that the brewery expanded outside Roeselare. In 1864 Regina sold him, at the age of 69, her brewery, her house and workshops, along with eleven bars she had bought. Regina Wauters would retire to live on her private means until her death in 1874.
And this is her entry from her Dutch Wikipedia page, translated by Google Translate:
Regina Wauters was a rich brewer’s daughter from Mechelen. She married Pedro Rodenbach in 1818 and moved to Roeselare. The family had a distillery in the Spanjestraat. In 1820, Pedro and his brothers and sisters took over a brewery in the street. In 1835 the family Rodenbach decided to sell the distillery that was still managed in community to Pedro. Pedro Rodenbach was also a soldier and since the Belgian revolutionhe could hardly be seen in Roeselare. He would die in Brussels in 1848. The family then sold the distillery to Regina Wauters, who acted by her husband’s proxy. However, it was Regina who provided the necessary money. She had the necessary documents drawn up, her husband acknowledging that she was the sole owner of the distillery and all other real estate. The distillery would for a long time be the only noteworthy distillery in Roeselare. She employed a lot of people. Regina would expand it immediately after the sale. Later she involved her eldest son, Raymond, in the case. Raymond Rodenbach would continue to run the distillery until about 1895. The distillery was later sold to Honoré Talpe who made it a chicory factory.
Regina Wauters did not only invest her money in the family distillery of the Rodenbachs. In 1836 the Rodenbach family, mainly represented by Alexander Rodenbach , sold her brewery in the Spanjestraat with many other properties. Pedro Rodenbach would buy the majority of that. However, he did this again with Regina’s money. Pedro also had to acknowledge once again in deeds that the brewery and all other properties he had bought from the family were now her property.
Regina Wauters immediately started the expansion of the brewery. She might have one of the largest distilleries in the region; she would not succeed in creating the largest brewery in the city. Before that she had too much competition from Anna Gesquiere, the widow Cauwe, who had a brewery on the Polenplein. There was a strong competition between the two ladies in the 1830s and 1840s. In this way they both strove to introduce the steam engine in Roeselare as soon as possible. Regina Wauters was known for the vigorous management of both her affairs. Her policy was particularly forward-looking. But she was also hardened in the small parts of the business world. For example, she was repeatedly suspected of circumventing the city tax on alcohol. She also had a lock placed on the Mandelbeek without a license,
Since 1848 she moved her sons Emiel and Florent to the brewery, but remained so in the background that they quickly noticed it. In 1860 her second son Eduard Rodenbach entered the brewery. He used to be a lineman manufacturer, but he was certain of being insecure during a flax crisis and decided to concentrate successfully on the beer industry. In 1864 Regina Wauters, now 69, her brewery, home and workshops, together with the eleven cafes she had bought, would sell to her son. From then on, Regina Wauters would retire until her death in 1874.
In 2004 a street in a Roeselaar industrial zone was named after her, the Regina Wautersweg.
And this is the history currently on the brewery website:
The Rodenbachs moved from Andernach am Rhein to Roeselare in West Flanders. The Rodenbach line boasted numerous military men, poets, writers, brewers and entrepreneurs, as well as pragmatic revolutionaries and politicians.
Pedro Rodenbach took part in Napoleon’s Russian campaign and was instrumental in the Belgian revolution in 1830, which led to an independent Belgium. Three Rodenbachs were members of the constitutional congress when Belgium was founded. Constantijn Rodenbach was the author of the “Brabançonne”, the Belgian national anthem.
In 1836, Pedro Rodenbach, together with his entrepreneurial wife Regina Wauters, founded the brewery. However, it is Eugène Rodenbach whom RODENBACH has to thank for its unique quality and masterful character. Not only did he study the vinification of beer, but also optimised the maturation process in oak casks, or “foeders” (maturation casks). The world-renowned cask halls with their 294 oak casks, some of which are 150 years old, are protected as part of the industrial heritage of the Flemish Community.
Today is the birthday of Mary of Burgundy (February 13, 1457-March 27, 1482), She was also known as the “Duchess of Burgundy, [and] reigned over the Low Countries from 1477 until her death. As the only child of Charles the Bold and his wife Isabella of Bourbon, she was the heiress to the vast, and vastly wealthy, Burgundian domains in France and the Low Countries upon her father’s death in the Battle of Nancy on January 5, 1477.”
Portrait of Mary of Burgundy, painted in 1490 by Austrian artist, Michael Pacher.
Here’s more about Mary, most of it from her Wikipedia page:
Mary of Burgundy was born in Brussels, at the ducal castle of Coudenberg, to Charles the Bold, Count of Charolais, and his wife, Isabella of Bourbon. Her birth, according to the court chronicler, Georges Chastellain, was attended by a clap of thunder ringing from the otherwise clear twilight sky. Her godfather was Louis, Dauphin of France, in exile in Burgundy at that time; he named her for his mother, Marie of Anjou. Reactions to the child were mixed: the baby’s grandfather, Duke Philip the Good, was unimpressed, and “chose not to attend the [Baptism] as it was only for a girl;” the grandmother, Isabella of Portugal, was simply delighted at the birth of a granddaughter.
Philip the Good died in 1467, making his son Duke of Burgundy and his 10-year-old granddaughter heiress presumptive. As the only child of Charles the Bold, Mary was heiress presumptive to a vast and wealthy domain, made up of the Duchy of Burgundy, the Free County of Burgundy, and the majority of the Low Countries, and her hand was eagerly sought by a number of princes. The first proposal was received by her father when she was only five years old, to marry the future King Ferdinand II of Aragon. Later the younger brother of Louis XI, Charles, Duke of Berry, made an approach, to the intense annoyance of his brother the King, who attempted to prevent the necessary papal dispensation for consanguinity.
As soon as Louis produced a male heir who survived infancy, the future King Charles VIII of France, Louis wanted his son to be the one to marry Mary, despite his son being thirteen years younger than Mary. Nicholas I, Duke of Lorraine, was a few years older than Mary, and his duchy lay alongside Burgundian territory, but his plan to combine his territory with hers was ended by his death in battle in 1473.
Mary ascended upon her father’s death in the Battle of Nancy on 5 January 1477. King Louis XI of France seized the opportunity afforded by his rival’s defeat and death to attempt to take possession of the Duchy of Burgundy proper, and also of Franche-Comté, Picardy and Artois.
A portrait believed to have been painted by Niklas Reiser.
The King was anxious that Mary should marry his son Charles and thus secure the inheritance of the Low Countries for his heirs, by force of arms if necessary. Burgundy, fearing the French military power, sent an embassy to France to negotiate a marriage between Mary and six-year-old Charles VIII, but returned home without a betrothal, finding the French king’s demands of cession of territories to the French crown unacceptable.
On February 10, 1477 at Ghent on the occasion of her formal recognition, known as the Joyous Entry, as Charles’ heir, she was compelled to sign a charter of rights, called the Great Privilege. Under this agreement, the provinces and towns of Flanders, Brabant, Hainaut, and Holland recovered all the local and communal rights which had been abolished by the decrees of the dukes of Burgundy in their efforts to create a centralized state on the French model out of their separate holdings in the Low Countries. In particular, the Parliament of Mechelen (established formally by Charles the Bold in 1470) was abolished and replaced with the pre-existing authority of the Parliament of Paris, which was considered an amenable counterweight to the encroaching, if informal, centralization undertaken by both Charles the Bold and Philip the Good. The Duchess also had to undertake not to declare war, make peace, or raise taxes without the consent of the States, and to employ only native residents in official posts.
Such was the hatred of the people for the old regime that two of her father’s influential councilors, the Chancellor Hugonet and the Sire d’Humbercourt, having been discovered in correspondence with the King of France, were executed at Ghent despite the tears and entreaties of the Duchess.
Another, later portrait by an unknown Flemish artist.
Mary now made her choice among the many suitors for her hand, selecting Archduke Maximilian of Austria, who became her co-ruler. The marriage took place at Ghent on the evening of 16 August 1477. The event initiated two centuries of contention between France and the Habsburgs (later of Spain, then of Austria) for their possession, which climaxed in the War of the Spanish Succession, 1701–1714.
In the Netherlands, affairs now went more smoothly, the French aggression was temporarily checked, and internal peace was in large measure restored.
Five years later, the 25-year-old Duchess died due to a fall from her horse on March 27, 1482 near Wijnendale Castle. She loved riding, and was falconing with Maximilian when her horse tripped, threw her, and then landed on top of her, breaking her back. She died several days later, having made a detailed will. She is buried in the Church of Our Lady in Bruges.
Louis was swift to re-engage, and forced Maximilian to agree to the Treaty of Arras (1482) by which Franche-Comté and Artois passed for a time to French rule, only to be regained by the Treaty of Senlis (1493), which established peace in the Low Countries. Mary’s marriage to the House of Habsburg would prove to be a disaster for France, for the Burgundian inheritance would later bring it into conflict with Spain and the Empire.
But, of course, she was also the inspiration for a Belgian beer, brewed by the Brouwerij Verhaeghe, located in Vichte, which is a ancient castle and farm in West Flanders. The beer is called Duchesse de Bourgogne, and it’s a personal favorite of mine. I know some people think it’s uneven, or not a classic Flanders Red Ale, but I love it.
I also wrote about Duchesse de Bourgogne a few years ago, and at the time I did my own short overview of her life.
Beer aside, the history of the Duchesse is fascinating. Her anglicized name was Mary of Burgundy, though she was born in Brussels on February 13, 1457, the only child of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, and his wife Isabella of Bourbon. Needless to say she was quite a catch, especially after her father died in battle (at the siege of Nancy, not a particularly awful sounding name) in 1477, when she was nineteen. Louis XI of France tried to take Burgundy and the Low Countries for himself but was frustrated when Mary signed the “Great Privilege,” by which she gave Flanders, Brabant, Hainaut, and all of Holland autonomous rule (leaving for herself the remainder of the Low Countries, Artois, Luxembourg, and Franche-Comté). She then married Archduke Maximilian of Austria, who was later the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, and part of the Hapsburg Austrian dynasty. This sparked a long-standing dispute over the Low Countries between France and the Hapsburg family.
One of Mary’s favorite hobbies was falconing, which was popular among royals in the day. Falconry is basically training and hunting using a falcon. While engaged in this pursuit, in 1482, Mary’s horse tripped, tossing her onto the ground where the horse then landed on top of her, breaking her back. A few days later she died. Mary was only 25. The beer label’s portrait pays homage to her love of falconry and her ultimate death because of it.
Her young son Philip became heir after her death, though Maximilian was in charge until he reached adulthood. King Louis forced Maximilian to sign the Treaty of Arras the same year, and it gave Franche Comté and Artois to France. But Philip was a virtual prisoner until 1485, and then it took Max another eight years to take back control of their lands in the Low Countries. The Treaty of Senlis, in 1493, finally established peace in the area, but Burgundy and Picardy remained French.
So during her short life, Mary had such great impact on European politics that they can be felt even now in the present. So it’s quite appropriate that she have so wonderful a beer that bears her name and her portrait. It’s a fitting legacy.
The Duchesse de Bourgogne from Brouwerij Verhaeghe is the traditional Flemish red ale. This refreshing ale is matured in oak casks; smooth with a rich texture and interplay of passion fruit, and chocolate, and a long, dry and acidic finish. After the first and secondary fermentation, the beer goes for maturation into the oak barrels for 18 months. The final product is a blend of younger 8 months old beer with 18 months old beer. The average age of the Duchesse de Bourgogne before being bottled is 12 months.
Coat of arms of Mary of Burgundy.
Today is also the feast day of St. Amand (c. 584 CE–679 CE). He was known for his hospitality, and is the patron saint of all who produce beer: brewers, innkeepers and bartenders and was also known as Amandus, Amandus of Elnon and Amantius. He was a bishop of Tongeren-Maastricht and one of the great Christian missionaries of Flanders. He is venerated as a saint, particularly in France and Belgium. He was born in Poitou, France, and died in the monastery at Elnone-en-Pevele (modern Saint-Amand-les-Eaux), France.
This account of his life is by T.J. Campbell from the Catholic Encyclopedia:
One of the great apostles of Flanders; born near Nantes, in France, about the end of the sixth century. He was, apparently, of noble extraction. When a youth of twenty, he fled from his home and became a monk near Tours, resisting all the efforts of his family to withdraw him from his mode of life. Following what he regarded as divine inspiration, he betook himself to Bourges, where under the direction of Saint Austregisile, the bishop of the city, he remained in solitude for fifteen years, living in a cell and subsisting on bread and water. After a pilgrimage to Rome, he was consecrated in France as a missionary bishop at the age of thirty-three. At the request of Clotaire II, he began first to evangelize the inhabitants of Ghent, who were then degraded idolaters, and afterwards extended his work throughout all Flanders, suffering persecution, and undergoing great hardship but achieving nothing, until the miracle of restoring the life of a criminal who had been hanged, changed the feelings of the people to reverence and affection and brought many converts to the faith. Monasteries at Ghent and Mt. Blandin were erected. They were the first monuments to the Faith in Belgium. Returning to France, in 630, he incurred the enmity of King Dagobert, who he had endeavoured to recall from a sinful life, and was expelled from the kingdom. Dagobert afterwards entreated him to return, asked pardon for the wrong done, and requested him to be tutor of the heir of the throne. The danger of living at court prompted the Saint to refuse the honour. His next apostolate was among of the Slavs of the Danube, but it met with no success, and we find him then in Rome, reporting to the pope what results had been achieved.
While returning to France he is said to have calmed a storm at sea. He was made Bishop of Maastricht about the year 649, but unable the repress the disorders of the place, he appealed to the Pope, Martin I, for instructions. The reply traced his plan of action with regard to fractious clerics, and also contained information about the Monothelite heresy, which was then desolating the East. Amandus was also commissioned to convoke councils in Neustria and Austrasia in order to have the decrees which had been passed at Rome read to the bishops of Gaul, who in turn commissioned him to bear the acts of their councils to the Sovereign Pontiff. He availed himself of this occasion to obtain his release from the bishopric of Maastricht, and to resume his work as a missionary. It was at this time that he entered into relations with the family of Pepin of Landen, and helped Saint Gertrude and Saint Itta to establish their famous monastery of Nivelles. Thirty years before he had gone into the Basque country to preach, but had met with little success. He was now requested by the inhabitants to return, and although seventy years old, he undertook the work of evangelizing them and appears to have banished idolatry from the land. Returning again to his country, he founded several monasteries, on one occasion at the risk of his life. Belgium especially boasts many of his foundations. Dagobert made great concessions to him for his various establishments. He died in his monastery of Elnon, at the age of ninety. His feast is kept 6 February.
And this history is from Catholic Online:
This great missionary was born in lower Poitou about the year 584. At the age of twenty, he retired to a small monastery in the island of Yeu, near that of Re. He had not been there more than a year when his father discovered him and tried to persuade him to return home. When he threatened to disinherit him, the saint cheerfully replied, “Christ is my only inheritance.” Amand afterward went to Tours, where he was ordained, and then to Bourges, where he lived fifteen years under the direction of St. Austregisilus, the bishop, in a cell near the cathedral. After a pilgrimage to Rome, he returned to France and was consecrated bishop in 629 without any fixed See, receiving a general commission to teach the Faith to the heathens. He preached the gospel in Flanders and northern France, with a brief excursion to the Slavs in Carinthia and perhaps, to Gascony. He reproved King Dagobert I for his crimes and accordingly, was banished. But Dagobert soon recalled him, and asked him to baptize his newborn son Sigebert, afterwards to become a king and a saint. The people about Ghent were so ferociously hostile that no preacher dared venture among them. This moved Amand to attempt that mission, in the course of which he was sometimes beaten and thrown into the river. He persevered, however, and in the end people came in crowds droves to be baptized.
As well as being a great missionary, St. Amand was a father of monasticism in ancient Belgium, and a score of monasteries claimed him as founder. He found houses at Elnone (Saint-Amand-les-Eaux), near Tournai, which became his headquarters, St. Peters on Mont-Blendin at Ghent, but probably not St. Bavo’s there as well; Nivells, for nuns, with Blessed Ida and St. Gertrude, Barisis-au-Bois, and probably three more. It is said, though possibly apocryphal, that in 646 he was chosen bishop of Maestricht, but that three years later, he resigned that See to St. Remaclus and returned to the missions which he had always had most at heart. He continued his labors among the heathens until a great age, when, broken with infirmities, he retired to Elnone. There he governed as Abbot for four years, spending his time in preparing for the death which came to him at last soon after 676. That St. Amand was one of the most imposing figures of the Merovingian epoch, is disputed by no serious historian; he was not unknown in England, and the pre-Reformation chapel of the Eyston family at east Hendred in Birkshire is dedicated in his honor.
He has quite a few patronages, including the Boy Scouts, bar staff, barkeepers, bartenders, brewers, grocers, hop growers, hotel keepers, innkeepers, merchants, pharmacists, druggists, vinegar makers, vine growers, vintners, wine-makers, and wine merchants; plus he’s against diseases of cattle, against fever, against paralysis, against rheumatism, against seizures, against skin diseases, against vision problems; and of the places: Flanders, Belgium; Maastricht, Netherlands; Salzburg, Austria; Utrecht, Netherlands; and Wingene, Belgium.
There are several examples of beers named for St. Amand and at least one beer importer.
- St. Amand French Country Ale from Brasserie Castelain, though it’s no longer on their website so maybe they discontinued it.
2. Brasserie Brunehaut also used to make an Abbaye de St Amand beer.
3. There’s also a St Amand Imports that imports a few beer brands.
Today is the feast day of St. Columbanus of Ghent (543 CE–February 15, 959 CE), not to be confused with Columbanus from three centuries earlier. He was a patron saint of Belgium, Ghent, and brewers. He was probably born in Ireland but moved with his followers to Ghent, Belgium, to escape raiding parties. There isn’t a great deal of information about him, and he’s not much remembered outside Belgium. He’s buried in the cathedral of Ghent, which at the time was known as the church of St. Bavo. His name is in the litany to be recited in Belgium during public emergencies.
This account is from Celtic Saints:
Saint Columbanus was probably an Irish abbot who led his community to Belgium following the constant raids of the Norsemen. On February 2, 957, Columbanus became a hermit in the cemetery near the church of Saint-Bavo at Ghent, where he acquired a wide reputation for holiness. He is buried in the cathedral and is one of the patrons of Belgium.
This one is from Omnium Sanctorum Hiberniae:
February 2 is the commemoration of a tenth-century Irish recluse at Ghent in Belgium. It seems, to judge from the footnotes to Canon O’Hanlon’s entry for Saint Columban, that he has been confused with his more famous namesake, Saint Columban (Columbanus) of Bobbio. It also seems that the saint is commemorated on the day of his enclosure as a hermit, February 2 in the the year 957, rather than on the day of his death, February 15. Canon O’Hanlon relies on the efforts of the seventeenth-century hagiologist, Father John Colgan, to uncover what was known about the Belgian Saint Columban.
Today is the feast day of St. Veronus. He is the patron saint of Lambeek & Belgian brewers. He was also known as Veronus van Lembeek, and he was a professor or a farmhand (accounts differ) who lived in Belgium in the 9th century.
This short account of his life is from his Dutch Wikipedia page, translated by Google:
The life of Veronus is known from a hagiography written by Olbert van Gembloers around 1015-1020.
According to legend, Veronus was a great-grandson of Charlemagne. He left the parental home at the age of 15, because he did not want to get married, and ended up in Lembeek. Here he settled and served as a servant on a farmyard.
Once when he hammered a stick into the ground, water immediately bubbled from the ground. He told his twin sister, Saint Verona, where he would be buried after his death. A fallen tree would show her the way. After his death it happened as he had foreseen.
And this account is from Heiligen, a German website devoted to saints, also translated by Google.
Veronus was of fairly high descent. He is said to have been a cousin of Charles the Bald († 877). He left his parental home because he did not agree with the plans of his parents who liked to see him married and with an appropriate party. He himself walked around desiring to devote himself entirely to the service of God, and thus not to marry. On his departure, he informed his sister Verona (9th century; feast day, August 29) that in due time a sign would indicate the time and place of his death: a storm would arise and the trees would blow over and fall in towards the place where he is said to have died. After some wanderings, he ended up on a court farm in Lembeek. There he hired himself out as a farmhand. He lived a life of simplicity and service.
Legend tells how he drilled a well when he once planted his stick in the ground near the church. After all, according to the chronicles, he died “loved by God and by men.”
Indeed, his death was accompanied by the signs he had announced to his sister at the time. So she left in the indicated direction and ended up in Brabant. The horses stopped in Berchem. There she was told that she had to continue to Lembeek. She found her brother’s grave in the local church. The moment she entered the body emitted a wonderful scent. The tomb was opened and the dead was found completely intact.
Over the centuries, the memory of Veronus faded. He is said to have appeared to a priest on the spot to remind him of his memory. The priest began to work for the restoration of the worship of Veronus, and the latter expressed his agreement by delighting many pilgrims with answers to prayers and other miracles.
There’s a St. Veronus Cafe and Tap Room located in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. They bill themselves as a Belgian restaurant and beer bar.
Today is the 53rd birthday of Jean Van Roy, who took over the Cantillon Brewery in Brussels from his father several years ago, though he’d been working there all of his life. Considered a working brewery museum, they make some amazing lambics, and the tour is one everyone should take at least once in their life. Down an unassuming alley in Brussels, and not one you’d feel safe meandering along at night, Cantillon has been located there since 1900, when it was founded. I’ve met Jean a number of times, and he always strikes me as a man with beer in his blood, and a passion for what he’s doing, which makes him a kindred spirit as far as I’m concerned. Join me in wishing Jean a very happy birthday.